Category Archives: National

2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

“A Joe Biden presidency would be exactly the same as a second term for Donald Trump.” This is something that I have heard from various friends and, of course, from the Internet recently. For one friend, Trump’s various sexual misconduct allegations are exactly equal to reports of unwanted contact from Biden. There was also a Bloomberg quiz where you can guess, unsuccessfully, as to which person said which of a small collection of quotes.

Of course, that is pertinent information, but I think it ignores the significant differences in legislation that would be passed under each presidency and what might also happen to the Supreme Court under each presidency. To get a better picture of the actual impact of each person’s presidency, I have dug into the legislative careers of various presidential candidates.

Why “various”? Why not all of them? Well, obviously, not all of the candidates have a legislative trail. Julián Castro was most recently HUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antanio. Pete Buttigieg is mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Andrew Yang founded the nonprofit Venture for America.

Trump, of course, never held elected office until winning the electoral college in 2016. FiveThirtyEight, a website devoted to quantifying political, sports, and other phenomena, tracks how closely the voting records of congresspeople have aligned with Trump. The most-aligned with Trump by that metric was Jeff Sessions, who voted with Trump 100% of the time before becoming Attorney General. So, it is Sessions who will be used as an (imperfect) proxy for Trump.

I live in Arizona, and so I am especially interested in my own senators. Those two senators currently are Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema. They both became senators (Sinema by election and McSally by appointment) in 2019. Therefore, their House records are used for this comparison. Continue reading 2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

McSally vs. Sinema – AZ Senate Race 2018

People often focus more on what politicians say than on what they do. Those two things are often not in accordance, due to factors within their control and not within their control. My preference is to look at how candidates actually legislate. However, no one that I know of puts out this information in an easy-to-read way. So, I have tried below to compile all of the legislative scorecards I could find for two Arizona candidates. I hope you find it useful.



Supports government transparency; Supports eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT people; Supports protecting the rights of immigrants

McSally and Sinema:


American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the largest federation of unions in the United States.




Pro Small Government Advocacy/Tea Party-Affiliated

McSally and Sinema:

Human Rights Campaign

Advocates for LGBTQ Equality

McSally and Sinema:

Humane Society

Pro Animal Welfare Advocacy

McSally and Sinema:

League of Conservation Voters

Environmental Advocacy



NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Advocacy, “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination”

McSally and Sinema:

National Cannabis Industry Association

McSally: 17%
Sinema: 100%

NCPSSM – National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

McSally: 14%
Sinema: 86%

NEA – National Education Association

Labor union that represents public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers.


Immigration Reduction Advocacy

McSally and Sinema:


Gun Deregulation Advocacy

Planned Parenthood

Pro Reproductive/Abortion Rights

WikiLeaks Tweets November 1-8, 2016

In 2016, like a lot of people using social media, I found myself constantly alarmed at the various accusations being leveled at Hillary Clinton and Democrats generally. A lot of these accusations, I found, originated with the Russian hack of the DNC.* As is now widely known (though less so among Republicans in the US*), Russian hackers stole information from both the Democrats and Republicans but only chose to disseminate information potentially harmful to Democrats.*

[perfectpullquote align=”full” class=”” cite=”” link=”” color=””]The claim of dishonesty is important because it suggests that WikiLeaks is itself opaque and, therefore, hypocritical.[/perfectpullquote]

One might argue that WikiLeaks founder (and former host of Russia Today’s World Tomorrow) Julian Assange is in favor of transparency generally and that the source of information that increases transparency is unimportant.* I find that explanation plausible. However, what I think may have received too little attention during the 2016 election is how partisan WikiLeaks was and how dishonest their dissemination of information was. The claim of dishonesty is important because it suggests that WikiLeaks is itself opaque and, therefore, hypocritical.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” class=”” cite=”” link=”” color=””]What you find is that, of those 153 tweets, 130 (85%) of them were critical of Clinton and Democrats generally. Of those same 153 tweets, there is not a single one critical of Trump nor of any Republican.[/perfectpullquote]

To support my claim of partisanship, I provide below a collection of all 153 tweets by WikiLeaks from November 1st through election day, November 8th, 2016.[simple_tooltip bubblewidth=’250′ content=’I say "all 153 tweets," but I am not sure if any were deleted between the time they were published and when I collected them. I collected them in May 2017 by scrolling back through WikiLeaks's Twitter posts.’]*[/simple_tooltip] What you find is that, of those 153 tweets, 130 (85%) of them were critical of Clinton and Democrats generally. Of those same 153 tweets, there is not a single one critical of Trump nor of any Republican. I categorized 15 of the tweets as neutral. One of those was a retweet of CNN’s Jake Tapper where the reporter wrote, “been hearing for weeks anecdotally about the CIA-FBI divide over this election.” Tapper clarified in a brief, tweeted conversation that he meant, “as a very crude generalization,” he was hearing about the CIA being anti-Trump and FBI being anti-Clinton.* I don’t know what prompted WikiLeaks to share this, so I categorized it as “neutral.”

[perfectpullquote align=”full” class=”” cite=”” link=”” color=””]To support my claim of dishonesty, I will highlight the habit the WikiLeaks tweeters had of misrepresenting the content of articles and emails.[/perfectpullquote]

To support my claim of dishonesty, I will highlight the habit the WikiLeaks tweeters had of misrepresenting the content of articles and emails. For example, on November 4th, WikiLeaks tweeted, “MIT prof: What I learned from visualizing Clinton’s emails – Summary: study censored & I was mobbed by Clintonists.”* The problem with this “summary” by WikiLeaks is that the professor never claims to have been mobbed.* He does claim that a Reddit thread about the analysis was taken down by a moderator, but there is no evidence that a “Clintonist” did this. In fact, the analyst himself notes that he was a Clinton supporter who viewed Trump as “potentially a threat to global security.” How did he summarize his own work? Read for yourself:

What I saw on Clinton’s emails was not surprising to me. It involved a relatively small group of people talking about what language to use when communicating with other people. […] I am sure that if we had access to Trump’s emails we would see plenty of the same behavior.

Another case involves a possibly strained relationship between Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. In the email exchange, Nora Toiv shares a November 2015 story published by People titled “Al Gore Declines to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President.” In fact, Gore says that he is not endorsing anyone at that point because it’s too early to decide.* Huma Abedin tells those present in the email thread that Gore warned the campaign that he would not endorse Hillary Clinton: “hard to put on email but there is no love lost in this relationship. reminder that he also refused to endorse in 2008!!!” This obviously indicates a strained relationship of some kind but gives no indication of ill will on either’s part. So, how did it turn out? Gore endorsed Clinton in July 2016, months before WikiLeaks tweeted the email.* Here’s how WikiLeaks presented the email exchange: “Hillary and Gore hate each other. The reason is too dangerous to put in email — Clinton’s closest aid Huma Abedin.”

Call me crazy, but that seems not at all transparent to me.

With this background, I present all 153 tweets with notes and context where I could find them:

“Clinton: out of touch, cronyistic, didn’t drive a car in 35 years, flew all over the world but accomplished nothing”
source WikiLeaks

“By biasing its internal electoral market the DNC selected the less competitive candidate defeating the purpose of running a primary.”
source WikiLeaks

Video compilation of WikiLeaks top stories, including feature regarding criticism of DNC
source WikiLeaks

Graphic showing election forecast favoring Trump
source New York Times

“The American people don’t like corruption. After the election comes selection. Who will be selected and why?”
[Note: Article by David Dayen, who has also contributed to Salon, The Intercept, and Fiscal Times.]
source New Republic

“Hillary Clinton is privately against gay marriage”
[Note: Regated is not currently active. It appears to have been founded by Victor Smith and Sam Wenkert. One of the writers for the publication calls himself Robert Powell and wrote on his Gab page on 3/12/18, “These countries are shitholes BECAUSE THEY ARE NO LONGER MAJORITY WHITE.” Other writers: Orlando Navarro, MD Anderson, Julian Wan.]
source Regated

Continue reading WikiLeaks Tweets November 1-8, 2016

2000 Census and Redistricting

The 2001–2002 round of congressional redistricting was the most incumbent-friendly in modern American history, as many pundits have noted. But the new district lines not only insulated incumbents from competition. They also froze into place a key feature of the 1990s districts that has escaped the notice of the press, political scientists, and most redistricting attorneys and experts: a “distributional bias” that gives Republicans a roughly 50-seat head start in the battle for control of Congress. In combination, these two features — extreme protection of incumbents and a powerful pro-Republican bias — might prevent Democrats from regaining control of Congress in this decade even if public opinion shifts heavily in their favor.

Sam Hirsch, The United States House of Unrepresentatives: What Went Wrong in the Latest Round of Congressional Redistricting, Election Law Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, 2003

Ona Judge

As America’s most beloved founding father, George Washington has long been credited with having a relatively enlightened outlook on the issue of slavery. Most famously, when he died in 1799, the former president freed all 123 slaves he owned in his will. But Washington notably did not free the 153 slaves owned by his wife, all of whom remained the property of her inheritors when she died. Three years earlier, one of Martha Washington’s slaves, Ona Judge, had liberated herself, slipping out of the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia and onto a ship bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Though Washington soon tracked her down and tried to get her back, Judge eluded his efforts, and would live out the rest of her days in freedom. She is featured in a new exhibition at Washington’s Virginia estate, Mount Vernon, and is the subject of a new biography published this week.

Cory Booker Admonished by True Libs

Summary of outrage:
Cory Booker, potential Democratic candidate for president in 2020, did a bit of grandstanding recently at the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions. Many libs/progressives were like, “Yeah!”
Then the True Libs piped up and said, “Nope. This guy’s nothing more than a Big Pharma shill who voted to take down Bernie’s bill that would have saved the world from high drug prices by allowing us to legally get drugs from Canada.” (Booker, incidentally, is a “Left Liberal” by voting record.)

Key points of Vox’s defense of Booker:
1. Senators generally vote based on their state’s interests rather than national sentiment. (Maybe because they want to keep their jobs.)
2. A decrease in local news coverage nationwide has led to increasing focus on national issues.
3. Because NJ has a major pharma and Wall Street presence, their politicians are going to appear “in the pockets” of those industries to a greater degree than reps from states without those influences.
-Not mentioned in the article is the fact that 97.5% of his contributions from “Wall Street” are from individuals who just work for financial firms. (This was true of Hillary too. Detractors seemed unaware or unfazed by this fact.)

Other points possibly worth consideration:
-A 2007 report from the Journal of Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management notes that “Canadians oppose legalization of reimportation in the US as it could exacerbate the problem of medication shortage in Canada.” The same report notes, “While these drugs are manufactured in the US, the storage and packaging conditions in countries where drugs were exported cannot be monitored by the FDA.”

Consumer Reports has a great and very detailed study on the prescription drugs issue. They do advocate for “limited importation of drugs from legitimate Canadian and European sources,” but there’s not a lot of detail on what “limited” or “legitimate” mean. They also say that the government should:
-Set a limit on out-of-pocket costs.
-Approve more generic versions of common drugs.
-Use government’s existing “march-in” rights: If there is a problem with the public’s access to a drug (a supply shortage or an exorbitant price), and if a drug was developed using taxpayer money, the Department of Health and Human Services has the right to force the company to allow another manufacturer to make generic versions that are cheaper for the consumer.

Turnout POTUS 2016

Updated March 3rd, 2017

I keep hearing this claim repeated by even usually well-informed people that voter turnout for 2016 was historically low. I think the claim is still prevalent because of a lot of premature reporting immediately following the election.

It also seems attractive to people to accept this and to conclude, “Well, yes, both presidential candidates were very unpopular, so no one voted.” However, as Stanford’s Jon Krosnick has pointed out, high unfavorability often drives more people to the poles.

When I google “2016 voter turnout US president,” the first result I get is a CNN article from Gregory Wallace and Robert Yoon titled “Voter turnout at 20-year low in 2016.” The article goes on to say, “While election officials are still tabulating ballots, the 126 million votes already counted means about 55% of voting age citizens cast ballots this year.”

There’s even a chart that shows just how badly the two candidates did compared to past elections. A little note below the chart, though, says that the numbers are going to change as more votes come in through December (the totals given are from November 10th).

So, what changed? Well, as Mother Jones pointed out on December 15th, this election actually had the third-highest turnout rate out of the past ten elections:

Actually, although this doesn’t change the ranking, this still isn’t accurate as they give a figure for turnout rate of 59.5%; it was actually 59.3%.

Also, at 136,665,420 total votes, this election had the highest total votes for president of any in history. (Perhaps less impressive when you account for normal population growth.)

CNN appears to be talking about total turnout rather than just votes for president. Their figures for total turnout are also wrong, though:

Patrick Scott at The Telegraph wrote the following on November 14th:

[I]t is possible to calculate an estimate of these figures by making projections based on the most recent population figures. This is exactly what Michael McDonald, associate professor at the University of Florida and who runs the US Elections Project website, has done.

He estimates that 57.9 per cent of eligible voters voted in this year’s election, down from 58.6 per cent in 2012 and from 61.6 per cent in 2008.

He then continues on using these projections that Michael McDonald later corrected. Why continue on? Well, he had to write something, right? Maybe so, but why not update it after the correct information comes out? Why just leave loads of wrong information floating around?


Glenn Geenwald, Failed Thinker, on this Election’s Outcome

Some of the latest smug drivel from Glenn Greenwald:

Democrats have already begun flailing around trying to blame anyone and everyone they can find — everyone except themselves — for last night’s crushing defeat of their party. You know the drearily predictable list of their scapegoats: Russia, WikiLeaks, James Comey, Jill Stein, Bernie Bros, The Media, news outlets (including, perhaps especially, The Intercept) that sinned by reporting negatively on Hillary Clinton.

This is like saying, “The dam technicians have already started blaming the many cracks in the dam for the fact that the dam broke.” Yeah, all of those things did contribute! Of course they did. And, yeah, the Democratic leadership was also partly to blame. They were so cavalier as to put their early support behind the candidate with both the highest familiarity and the highest net favorability:

March, 2015
And, yeah, they already knew that this would cause her favorability to suffer, as Nate Silver wrote in 2012:

But if Mrs. Clinton runs for president in 2016, one thing is almost certain: she won’t be as popular as she is right now. Recent polls show that about 65 percent of Americans take a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, while only about 30 percent have a negative one. Those are remarkably high numbers for a politician in an era when many public officials are distrusted or disliked.

And, keep in mind that, despite that suffering favorability, she still beat Bernie by nearly 3.7 million votes, mainly because she did so much better with non-white voters:


Now, onto tackling Greenwald’s list in the order given:


Russia was behind the cyberattack that led to the most recent major WikiLeaks DNC email bounty:



Maybe you wonder why WikiLeaks only publishes shit about Hillary and the Democrats. Well, wonder no more. Here’s none other than The Intercept to expand on that:


James Comey

The fact that Comey’s investigation apparently damaged Hillary’s polls quite starkly contrasts with some important conclusions:

Elijah Cummings: Do you agree with the claim that General Petraeus, and I quote, ‘Got in trouble for far less,’ end of quote? Do you agree with that statement?

Comey: His conduct, to me, illustrates the categories of behavior that mark the prosecutions that are actually brought. Clearly intentional conduct, knew what he was doing was a violation of the law, huge amounts of information that even if you couldn’t prove he knew it, it raises the inference that he did it, an effort to obstruct justice. That combination of things makes it worthy of a prosecution. A misdemeanor prosecution, but a prosecution nonetheless.

* * *

Blake Farenthold: How do you respond to people who are saying that this is not how (the) average American would be treated. This is only how Hillary Clinton would be treated?

Comey: When people tell you that others have been treated differently, demand from a trustworthy source the details of those cases because — I’m a very aggressive investigator, I was a very aggressive prosecutor — I have gone back through 40 years of cases, and I’m telling you under oath that to prosecute on these facts would be a double standard, because Jane and Joe Smith would not be prosecuted on these facts.

Jill Stein

Stein was a vocal opponent of Hillary at a time when, as Bernie was well aware, she needed every bit of support possible:

I join millions of Americans who see Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the opposite of what they and Bernie Sanders have fought for. Despite her penchant for flip flopping rhetoric, Hillary Clinton has spent decades consistently serving the causes of Wall Street, war and the Walmart economy.

Maybe Greenwald is also reluctant to criticize a supporter:

And this:


Of course, we should note (as Wasserman did) that we don’t know if Stein voters (or Johnson voters) would have voted at all if a third-party candidate weren’t available.

And this:

Under Hillary Clinton, we could slide into nuclear war very quickly from her declared policy in Syria. So I won’t sleep well at night if Donald Trump is elected, but I sure won’t sleep well at night if Hillary Clinton is elected. Fortunately, we have another choice other than these two candidates, who are both promoting lethal policies. But on the issue of war and nuclear weapons, and the potential for nuclear war, it is actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump….

Bernie Bros

It was among Bernie Bros that I first heard the slogan “Hillary for Prison”:

Snapshots Taken by Me February of this Year

What do you think? Did this help Hillary or hurt her?

The Media

From a study by Thomas E. Patterson of the Harvard Shorenstein Center:

Bernie Sanders’ campaign was largely ignored in the early months but, as it began to get coverage, it was overwhelmingly positive in tone. Sanders’ coverage in 2015 was the most favorable of any of the top candidates, Republican or Democratic. For her part, Hillary Clinton had by far the most negative coverage of any candidate.

Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end. Of the eight news outlets in our study, Fox News easily led the way.



Updated 1/26/17

Was Bernie Cheated Out of the Democratic Nomination?

Question: Didn’t Democratic superdelegates, the media, and the DNC cheat Bernie out of the Democratic nomination?



The current superdelegate rules have been in place since 1982. Over that time, superdelegates haven’t mattered much to any Democratic race:

In fact, even without superdelegates, Hillary beat Bernie by over 3 1/2 million votes:

Bernie’s not an idiot, so he had to have known when he officially announced his candidacy on March 27th, 2015, that Hillary already had an unprecedented superdelegate endorsement advantage, compared not just to him but to any candidate since the current system began:

The Media

As for the media cheating Bernie out of the nomination, the best evidence is mixed. According to a study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, the media didn’t initially give Bernie adequate attention to up his name recognition in the crucial early stages of the campaign. However, when he did begin to get media coverage, that coverage was the most positive of any candidate, Republican or Democrat, while the coverage of Hillary was the most negative of any candidate:
Month-to-Month Tone of Sanders’s Coverage
Month-to-Month Tone of Clinton’s Coverage

Another study, by Jonathan Stray of NiemanLab, found that the media’s average coverage of a candidate tracked very closely with that candidate’s position in the polls:



Much has been made in alternative liberal media circles of a supposed DNC conspiracy to sabotage Bernie. The evidence is fairly thin, though. One example is this email from DNC rep Eric Walker: “If she outperforms this [Rhode Island] polling, the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct. They’ll probably complain regardless, actually.” It’s apparently outrageous to make such a prediction even though Bernie supporters and his campaign reps complained frequently and loudly about many aspects of the primary. One supporter, Tim Robbins, is mentioned in the same email exchange after posting the following tweet:

Robbins has since deleted this Tweet, but not before Joshua Holland of Raw Story got a snapshot and investigated the numbers. He summed up his findings like this:

So there you have it. They say a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on, and that’s especially true of the internet. Here we have an example of an actor citing a comedian who picked up a claim from an anonymous Reddit user citing preliminary exit poll data put together by a JFK conspiracy theorist. Bringing it all full circle is The Hill, which ran a story titled, “Actor Tim Robbins blames Sanders losses on ‘voter fraud,’” which will no doubt be shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter.

It took hours of copying, pasting, and calculating for me to put together this compilation of all of the primary exit/entrance poll results (all data from here, which, ultimately, means from here). Once I had this info, though, I could update that Tim Robbins meme:

Still convinced of malfeasance? At the very least, you should be questioning the strength of these claims.


A friend asked me to clarify why poll results get adjusted, so I’m adding some extra info about exit polls.

Short version: Bernie supporters skew young. Young voters are more likely to respond to exit polls. Polling orgs like Edison Research then have to adjust the stats to fit known demographics.

Long version: To start with, let’s say you want to try to get a good, representative sample of feelings from Massachusetts Democratic primary voters.  From the 2008 MA Democratic primary, you have the following age breakdown:

You must now confront people and ask them to fill out a survey for you. You try to get roughly equal numbers of all of these groups of people. In the 2008 Dem primary, about 1.26 million people voted. According to the central limit theorem, the number of randomly-sampled responses you need for a representative sample is about 30. But, it’s impossible to get a random sample in this situation. So, you try to get a good variety of about 30 people from each of those age groups. But, you’re eye-balling it and only about 45% of people will fill out your survey. So, really, you just do your best.

You pool your collected data with the data of 50 other pollsters with each pollster trying to get 30 responses from each age group for a total of 6,000 results (30 responses * 4 age groups * 50 pollsters). The demographics you end up with resemble this:

Now, these are the unadjusted results. Let’s see how these results work out with age results we got from Iowa:

Now, let’s apply these figures to our unadjusted responses:

OK. Now, let’s adjust these results to conform better to 2008 Massachusetts Democratic primary demographics. This is called “weighting” and, to do this, we divide the known variable into the sampled variable:

Now, we end up with the following:

Updated 11/16/2016.